Long Beach Filipino community struggles with access to healthy food: study


A recent study conducted by Long Beach's health department indicates that a significant portion of the local Filipino community grapples with poor accessibility and low affordability of healthy food options.

About the study: Released on Oct. 30, the findings are part of the Filipino Community Health Needs Assessment survey initiated to understand COVID-19's impact on communities of color.

The study, which aims to bridge historical gaps in participation from the Filipino community in city processes, particularly highlighted the plight of the Westside area's Filipinos. The group has been historically known for having limited access to healthier food choices.

Need for healthier food choices: The study revealed that 38% of the 219 participants (out of some 20,000 Long Beach residents of Filipino descent) expressed concerns about the affordability of nutritious meals over the past year. Of this group, 8% considered it a constant issue, while 5% reported regular worries.

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Respondents stated their desires for alternatives to red meat, white rice and fried goods, expressing a need for more affordable groceries, farmer's markets, parks and grocery stores in their neighborhoods.

Study’s scope and limitations: Filipino, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health Equity Coordinator Harold Dela Cruz emphasized the link between limited access to nutritious foods and the ability to make healthier food decisions. Dela Cruz cautioned against making sweeping conclusions due to the relatively small sample size of 219 respondents.

The Westside area, identified as a potential candidate for the city's food market program, has prompted the Filipino Community Advisory Committee to formulate programs and policies based on the report's results.

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Additional findings: The study further indicated that 36% of the Filipino respondents had high blood pressure diagnoses, 15% were diagnosed with diabetes, and 57% had a family history of diabetes. Younger generations were found to be more inclined towards addressing mental health care needs, highlighting evolving health priorities within the community.

The city's health department also found that from January 2020 to August 2021, Asian residents, including many essential workers from the Filipino community, were 1.9 times more likely to be hospitalized by COVID-19 and 1.7 times more likely to succumb to the virus than their white counterparts.

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